Happy November!

Good Afternoon My Food Lovers!

Sending you and your families a whole lot of peace and love this first day of November; may it continue throughout the month. We’ve got a lot of goodness going on this month, three of my favorite things including:

  • Food (Quick, filling recipes to be precise!)
  • Travel Tales (Guess where?)
  • Inspirational Gems (Because who turns their noses to a dose of happiness?)

It’s a special month, as it marks 6 years being in the blogging business. I give thanks and look forward to connecting with you and yours! I’d love to know what you’ve got cooking up in your world. πŸ™‚ Until then, EXPECT MIRACLES and PREPARE TO RECEIVE THEM! ❀

Warmly,

The Smitten Chef ❀

IMG_0665

When All Else Fails, Begin Again!

Hey, My Food Lovers!

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog on here. Two years to be precise. I just wanted to stop in and say HELLO. I’d certainly love to hear about how you and your loved ones have been doing, so comment away!!! πŸ™‚

I have been a little bit of everywhere. ❀ What was once confusion has circled back to full on knowing and continuous becoming. All is well again and while in the process of bringing everything back together and closing gaps, I re-member to drop in and speak up. Make some noise. Ruffle some feathers. Close some accounts. Blend a few. My point is to say thank you for sticking with me and remaining in my world. It means so much to me. I’ve learned so much over the past two years and so I will leave you with the most recent message:

Expect Miracles and PREPARE to Receive Them!

I have also learned that when gifted with understanding life cycles and growth, the most important thing we can do is give thanks for all that has been thrown our way, discard what no fits or harmonizes, and continue cycling. What is for you will be, what is not will flee.

So…who’s ready to unite, Smitten Chef Style? ❀

*Tell me what your food, wellness and lifestyles desires are and I’ll do what I can to assist.* Be well friends!

Chasing Butterflies,

The Smitten Chef ❀

IMG_9340 Iceland Road Leading To 2016

The road less traveled is far more scenic in my opinion.Β 

It’s Getting Late October…Welcome November!Β 

Good Evening Sweets, 

As the month of October ends & I hide from trick-or-treaters, I come to write you. You know, to wish you a Happy Birthday…month. 😊 

Surely you didn’t think I forgot about you? Of course not. No, I decided at the end of September to celebrate you and your birthday all month long & call The Awesomes on your actual birthday. As celebration, I wanted to send daily inspiration out into the world on my Instagram page because it sounded like a good idea. Plus it caused me to get up and look for the good. The beautiful. You know, you. Last October seemed to last 90 days so I figured I would combat that feeling with feel-GOODS; early morning thoughts that welcomed October. I knew one of the days I would comfortably write you an open letter- and with every lesson I quickly learned it would be the last day so I could tell you in full all the FunFacts this months dedication brought this way. 

1. Everything really IS everything. It is not my job to make anyone believe it. However, since I believe and see it, it is my job to show people how and why I do. 

2. I have had three men under the age of 40 ask me to slow dance with them. I know it’s not magic, but it did leave me hopeful. 

3. Remember when we lived in the Philippines how we would all chase butterflies and try to touch them? I always thought it would be so cool to touch a butterfly again as an adult. I realize just how fragile they are and I always said I would be more gentle with them the next chance I got. 

4. I have written two books since your last birthday. Just like you told me to do! 😊 

5. Team USA won 3 gold medals in the “Culinary Olympics” this month! Go team goooooo!

6. The word of the day on your birthday was ‘vulnerary,’ the meaning used for or useful in healing wounds. I’m not even sure how to properly use that word in a sentence, so let me tell you what vulnerary technique I’ve been using this month: RELEASING things. (Hope that worked! Hahaha) 

7. What IF…?! I now see why you keep shouting at me to keep writing. You’re funny. 

8. The most important lesson I have learned this month is the beauty of letting go. People, places & things. One main thing is letting go of the notion of having to be anything that I am NOT. I found it to be debilitating and a different form of a lie. Everyday I would write down and release what I was “not,” then replace it afterwards with what I am. It is a pretty healthy exercise and I think I will keep it in my diet! 😊

9. There is a bit of sadness that rustles through these blogs, at least to me. Perhaps not sadness, just something I cannot pinpoint. It needs changing though. I have been looking  over the entries for a while now trying to figure out where I want to go, what direction to take. I am thankful to have spoken to other peoples’ hearts, but overall I feel these lessons have come right back into my pots. Time to wash the dishes and set a new table. I will always keep our love for writing in the forefront. πŸ’œ

Soooooooo, you know how I waited until the end of the month to write you? Well, it was also because I hadn’t seen or heard from you in a while…I kinda thought you forgot about me. Yes, I know, for those who love with their heart and soul there is no such thing as separation…but I miss you, and you said you would never leave my side. Not even for one second. I’m out here telling the world to Expect Miracles and somedays I don’t even damn believe them for mySelf. I had a friend ask me three days ago if I “REALLY believed” in affirmations. That caused me to go back over all my posts from October! Not only did it remind me to practice what I preached, it allowed me the opportunity to see that all this time I have been writing to you. In every post. I dusted mySelf off and asked to be shown something beautiful, with the hope that it would greet me before the month ended. Yesterday I went somewhere I had not been in a long time. I also invited someone to join me which doesn’t ever happen; but it was a small bite out of being uncomfortable because I thought they might find it peaceful. I declared I would see a butterfly. Not only did one fly over us, but on the way out I saw it again later. Upclose and personal…and I got to TOUCH IT! Just like we used to do. Just like you, always listening. 😍 Selfish of me to think You would remain in the same places now that you have the ability to fly. Silly of me to think you wouldn’t figure out a way to make me uncomfortable, while still keeping me focused. I’ll just have to chase YOU! ❀️

Happy Birthday Sweets! I pray you found peace in every day. Thank you. 

Cry Out With Your Whole Heart,

The Smitten Chef βœ¨πŸ€—βœ¨ 


Look at you, lookin’ all pretty and $hit. πŸ’œ


Travel Tales: Savannah, Georgia.Β 

…I have been learning to trust those middle of the night “wake me ups.” Yesterday, I woke up to a bird chirping a song I heard before. Not sure if “before” meant five days ago, or five minutes ago; for the song was also in my dreams. Tonight, I popped up out of my sleep again. Only this time to the tune of crickets. Normally I would go back to bed but I noticed both nights shared more than a song…I woke up at the same time. Only one question left to ask. What is on my mind?

Savannah, Georgia is on my mind. Weekend getaways. Family fun. Miracles. As much as  I love to travel, my mode of transportation preference is by air. The older I get, I conclude it is connected to my excitement and my patience level. GET ME THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE: I want to explore! I already live in Georgia and Savannah is about 4 hours away from start to finish…I have spent half that time getting through security at the airport. Road trip it is. πŸ™‚ 

We left on a Saturday afternoon. There was only one goal: to see my niece. She was on a field trip and we went to support her. We arrived with four hours to spare before her arrival time, leaving us with the perfect amount of time to check in, eat and explore the city. Joy!

My mom picked the perfect location: the riverfront. Not only did this make for gorgeous views in a historic setting, but we both love walking and were close enough to everything to tool around town until our feet said “no more.” We have rules to eating when traveling, and that is to try our best to dine somewhere new and/or at a restaurant we can’t find at home. Don’t get me wrong I love seeing businesses in multiple locations, but as a food lover, half of my reason to travel is to experience all the food this world has to offer! 

We chose a place called Savannah Taphouse. Formerly home to the Avon Theater located on Broughton Street the owners turned into an upscale sports bar. “Bringing Hoppiness to Savannah,” their take away menu reads. The atmosphere is relaxed and comforting. When you walk in, there’s a bar to the left and table seating is available on two floors. We opted to eat upstairs, which was nice because we got to see everything! It was a Saturday night, right around 7:00 pm and we beat the night crowd but still got to enjoy the restaurant while it was full of hustle and bustle. There are 30 tv’s inside (including 6 80″ screens!) and 40 taps and over 100 bottled beers available. We weren’t there for either of those reasons, but I found it pretty cool to be able to come back specifically to sample beers and talk sports. I also liked that my mom and I were there to enjoy one another’s company and were able to have a conversation over 30 tv’s without feeling like we had to scream at each other. Score! 

What brought us to the restaurant was our salad craving. After walking a few blocks around the city, we came back to the taphouse because you can build your own salad. You choose your salad base (romaine or mixed greens) then select 5 toppings. There had to be about 30 items! You could add meat or more toppings for an additional price, ranging from grilled chicken to blackened Mahi. Then you can top it with one of their house made dressings. My mom had mixed greens, with broccoli, black beans, tomatoes, roasted peppers and corn…I had a side salad with the Peppercorn Parmesan dressing and nachos with chicken on top. We also had spinach artichoke dip, that came with pita chips sprinkled with cracked black pepper and salt. Fresh. Hot. Huge portions. Creamy dressings. Lots of cheese on my nachos. Friendly staff & prompt service. Delightful. I’ll be back for sure, and have already decided I’m having the Santa Fe Burger with a beer. πŸ™‚

I had already devoured the dip and dug into my Mom’s salad before remembering I had a camera on deck from sightseeing. Below was my meal. The nachos are bigger than my face and make for a great appetizer that can actually be shared. I know I needed help. 


After we ate, we had good intentions of walking a few blocks. The streets were full of people! The buildings lit up! The air was filled with lovely humidity that reminds you that you are in the south, but not quite as sticky as my last visit- for my curls stayed. The horse and carriage rides added a sweet charm to the city, as did the excitement from the couples walking past us. I could feel the breeze from the river and smell the food from all the restaurants on the way back to the hotel. The city of Savannah had opened its arms and welcomed us. Helllloooo Summertime. ❀

Hello comfortable bed with covers so fluffy, I melted into them. Needed to rest up for whatever the next day with my niece would bring. 

Sunday started at 6:45 am…breakfast in the hotel. Buffet style, omelettes & waffles cooked to order. I ate everything but the two, but if given enough time I would have. πŸ™‚ Fresh fruits, sausages, French toast, grits, potatoes, yogurt and more grits graced my plates. My mother had her fruits and a nice bowl of oatmeal with fixins’. I had not done my usual hotel tour the day before (where I roam the hotel and plan how make use of all the amenities) so I did not know this view would be joining us for breakfast! 


Mid afternoon found us at Old Ft. Jackson. It was about ten minutes from the hotel and another 10-13 minutes if we wanted to make our way on over to Tybee Island. We grabbed some snacks and stayed on the fort. It was a beautiful day, and I was able to capture a history lesson and a few pictures while there before my niece and her crew arrived! When they came, we joined them for a different tour of the fort and learned about the history of the Girl Scouts. I was impressed and the girls were happy. The tour ended with a canon being fired. Neat-O.


After the tour, we all went to eat at a restaurant called The Pirates’ House. This building has quite a bit of history to it, dating all the way back to 1733. It was here that Trustees Garden (the first experimental garden in America) was located. In 2016, it is here you can dine on southern specialties while enjoying an atmosphere that has been preserved to reflect its past. A few of the crew can be found dressed as pirates and there is a nice sized gift shop upstairs totally worth checking out. My niece had a ball up there!

Since we dined as a large party, we were in a private room and the food was served buffet style. Fried chicken tenders, grilled salmon, salad and sides such as mac’n’cheese, green beans and corn was served. Mom and I ordered off of the main menu and without discussion, ordered the same meal: crab cakes with a remoulade sauce and a strawberry spinach salad topped with candied pecans, goat cheese and a light vinaigrette dressing. Very good. 

The restaurant is walking distance to the river, so we all hung out sightseeing, laughing and souvenir shopping. My niece and her troopwere walking the river front for the views, but also in the direction of their hotel. Once we figured that out, mom and I stopped halfway and walked back to our car. The time had come to part ways and for us to head back home. What better way say goodbye than to have ice cream with my niece! (We were right in front of a candy store called Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.) Perfect. Both had sugar cones and two scoops of gelato. She had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of lime…I had a scoop of raspberry and a scoop of mango. Since she skipped away waving, that ought to explain how good it was. πŸ™‚

I did take photos along the way, and will share a few below. Out of respect for my travel companions who don’t love the selfie movement the way I do, I save those shots for our scrap book. I am so thankful we got to share these moments together and my niece hugged me and asked, “Are you going to blog about this? If so, don’t forget to mention this gelato!” She knows me well.

A toast: to family, adventures and miracles. Oh and to the midnight jolts out of bed, reminding me to get up, Gooooo, write & repeat. ❀

The Smitten Chef 



Wanderlust: 25 Signs You’ve Been Bitten by the ‘Travel Bug’

The only bug bite I have not heard any complaints about- the “travel bug.” A positive spin on catching something infectious- in this case it’s an extremely deep feeling one catches to travel. Even the people I know who can no longer physically travel speak so fondly of their past it is as if they are being transported mid story. πŸ™‚

Whether you are a seasoned traveler, international traveler, or just got back from your first adventure, this universal fact remains: once the travel bug bites you, there is no going back. You are a traveler for life. Your wanderlust is in constant need of attention. If that is you, welcome! If you aren’t sure, below are some signs indicating you have been bitten too.

1. You start all of your stories with, “When I was in…”

2. Every problem has a solution. The word travel is somewhere in the answer.

3. You collect items from your destinations and use them as decoration. (Examples include postcards, coffee mugs, shot glasses, hotel goodies, the local currency.)

4. You can plan an entire road trip months in advance, but have trouble deciding what’s on your agenda for the upcoming day. 

5. You notice your bucket list is not getting shorter, but longer. 

6. Your Instagram page doubles as an online vision board for destinations. 

7. You read travel blogs, guidebooks and websites for fun.

8. You share inspirational quotes and photographs about traveling on any social media outlet you are a part of.


9. Your clothes tell their own stories. (A purse from Milan, a headscarf made just for you while studying fashion abroad, a Waffle House pin from your favorite server while in Texas.) 

10. If your job requires travel, you have hit the jackpot!

11. You have your next 3 destinations planned out in your mind.

12. Your life goals include things like having one friend in every time zone or visiting as many countries as possible. 

13. If someone you know implies you aren’t “really” friends with Anthony Bourdain, you contemplate ending your friendship with them. (You don’t need that type of negativity in your life.) 

14. You have taken this picture many times! πŸ™‚ 


15. You might not have the best clothes, but you have fabulous travel gear. 

16. You simply cannot imagine settling down with anyone who doesn’t share the same passion for travel as you. 

17. You know how to say “hello” & “goodbye” in multiple languages. 

18. You plan a birthday trip instead of a birthday party in your hometown. (Hell, the goal is to find a party while visiting!) 

19. If you have not been anywhere in a few months, you have withdrawals. 

20. If you could turn back time, it would be so you could travel more with the ones you love.

21. You volunteer yourself to go on other people’s vacations. 

22. You have a “just in case” bag packed and ready to go. Good for 3 full days of travel. 

23. You learn the city 30 miles away from home can be just as much an adventure as a city 3,000 miles away. ❀

24. You consider your passport to be your favorite accessory.

25. You look up the definition of wanderlust to make sure it’s a real word and to serve as validation that what you feel inside is a real thing. 

To Travel Tales,

The Smitten Chef πŸΎ

Life’s Mise en Place: Gratitude

The French term mise en place (meez ahn plahs) literally means “everything in its place.” In the culinary world, it means gathering and prepping the ingredients needed for cooking. It also includes going a step further and includes assembling the tools and equipment needed to cook them. The concept is simple: A chef should have at hand everything needed to prepare and serve food in an organized and efficient manner.

There is a popular saying, “If you stay ready you ain’t gotta get ready.” I have always liked that quote. Number one, it makes complete sense. Number two, a person can say it in a loud voice with great enthusiasm and it is usually received as motivation by whoever is in earshot. I have found it makes people want to get up and do something!

I have spent the past few days in silence. Not because I really want to; merely because there is not much to say. I cannot say there was a lot to do, because I thought I had done as much as I could until given my next steps. The steps I had taken clearly did not align with my plans (least not in full) because I found myself in the same place. Literally.Β Time to retrace my steps and see what happened. Joy.

In the culinary world, mise en place differs in every position, and definitely from restaurant to restaurant. A banquet chef’s work may differ every night, while a sauciers work in a restaurant is more than likely identical night after night. A personal chef’s mise en place is dependent upon what the client needs during their time together and might vary day to day. Regardless of the number of items needed or the complexity of the recipes being prepared, the focus of mise en place requires careful planning, efficient organization and attention to detail.

Usually when unexpected silence comes my way, I try listening very closely to what is being said. I also try listening and comparing things to the culinary world, because it sheds a new perspective on how to handle tasks (or gives me more to do.) I find myself eager to do anything connected to food because it is a joy to be around it. I’m generally a Chatty Cathy, so when I have nothing to say (especially when I should) life sure does. Today Life screamed at me: JOY. THANKSGIVING. TRUST.Β 

I am in a place where my life’s transition has been met with a serious attitude check. More than one chapter was being closed, an entire volume is complete. I had not complained about the tasks given, for the goals and next volume is an exciting one. When I found myself missing out on the first stop of the next phase, I had to reevaluate things quickly; and since I had completed the necessary steps all that was left was my attitude. I cannot take with me the same feelings I had in the last chapters. They were pained, disappointed and cautious. I wrote a book to place everything there and leave it in an honest and respectful way. What I forgot to do was replace those feelings with something else, so that they would not come back. Feelings such as joy. Thanksgiving. Trust.Β 

If there is one thing I do know is the more prepared in the culinary world, the better. When something goes awry, or a situation occurs that one has zero experience in, at least they are as prepared as can be. Allowing the chance to operate quickly and with a clear head. The same thing can be said about life; it dishes out an incredible amount of ‘entrees’ for us to sample. Some taste good, others lack flavor. Some days you may want to spit out what’s been given without a second thought, while other times you may find yourself trying to develop the flavors and richen the experience. The lesson I have found is to approach life with my own mise en place: An ounce of joy, a dash of thanksgiving…a sprinkle of trust. Gratitude.Β So when something tastes sour, I don’t have to spend longer than necessary adjusting my attitude- I was ready. And who am I kidding? The more gratitude, the better. Sprinkle that $hit everywhere. Β  πŸ™‚

From My Pot to Yours,

The Smitten Chef ❀

 

Follow the roads and signs that will take you places!

IMG_9340 Iceland Road Leading To 2016.JPG

 

 

 

A Letter to My Sister: Goodbyes Sprinkled with HellosΒ 

Hello Sister,

Today marks one year since you passed away. I thought I was going to be curled in a ball all day, but you have not allowed that. I also thought I would have plenty to say, however the words that started my day ended up being silenced and turned into action steps. Everywhere I went I could feel you. Then I remembered a quote by Rumi which says: goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation. It was this quote which opened the door for so many wonderful thoughts to share with you.

1. Everywhere I go, a butterfly follows me. Most days it is the same yellow and black one; the other days I just laugh thinking about your love for costumes & welcome your change of clothes. 

2. Whenever I go to the coffee shop, they play songs we used to jam to. What’s even better is when it is your turn to sing, a random customer nearby is humming your favorite parts. 

3. I saw what you did there by the mailbox…blooming overnight. Showing me it is truly possible to do in the most subtle way, while encouraging my own growth. The flowers look lovely. 🌺

4. Thank you for giving me a different reason to count the hours this week. 

5. You have caused me to open my eyes to life and take everything around me in. I search for you, and in my findings so many unattractive things are now beautiful in their own way. 

6. Today, Prince passed away. 

7. Sometimes memories of you sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks. Don’t fret, some moments are sheer laughter.

8. The word of today is litany. The first definition says it is a prayer consisting of a series of invocations and supplications by the leader with alternate responses by the congregation. In my personal litany, I speak of all the great ways you touched my life and influenced those around you to be our very best. I whisper thank you. 

9. In full effort of remaining odd and cracking lame jokes, I marry the two by stopping this list now with a riddle I told the Awesomes. “I just ate a piece of cheese…it was soooo gooood;ahhhhh! Can you guess the kind by my reaction?!” (Babygirl guessed, but I’m certain the other two ignored me on purpose.) Answer is Gouda. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

There is an anonymous quote on friendship that says, “A friend who understands your tears is much more valuable than a lot of friends who only know your smile.” My ideal would be to not have ever said goodbye to you with my eyes, but only a friend like you would take my tears and understand how to awaken my soul to find your new “Hellos.” Fly High Sweets. You are missed. 

Purple Will Always Reign,

The Smitten Chef πŸ’œ

 

* When we used to search for the softest clouds. *
 * Bloom where you are planted. *

* An inverted picture of the mailbox flowers that I love! *